Anchorage’s new Tier II junior hockey team will debut this weekend, a chance for fans to get their first look at the team and for coaches to evaluate players after their first week of practice.
The Anchorage Wolverines will play an intrasquad game Saturday at 7:07 p.m. at the Royal Business Systems Ice Center on O’Malley Centre Drive. The beer garden opens at 5 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $10 and available at anchoragewolverines.com.
The Wolverines, one of three Alaska teams in the North American Hockey League, open the season next month with a three-week road trip. Their first home game is Oct. 15.
Before then, they have to whittle their roster to 23 players — a process that will be aided by Saturday’s scrimmage, the first of two intrasquad games planned. The other is Aug. 28.
Coach Mike Aikens said the scrimmages are a chance for him to size up talent, as are the two-a-day practices that have been going on all week at the O’Malley rink.
“Every day is important to those guys, and I think really there’s some reward here,” Aikens said. “We’ve been practicing, and now you get to actually play a game and see the results of some of your hard work.
“You’re being measured constantly throughout training camp, and we’ll continue to do that through the game tomorrow. We’ll be videotaping the games so we’ll be able to go and break those down and evaluate everyone.”
Aikens said about a dozen Alaskans are among the 40 players, ages 17 to 20, participating in the team’s training camp. Players have been on the ice twice a day since Monday and will continue two-a-day practices next week.
He said the Wolverines plan to play a pair of exhibition games against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in Anchorage during the first week of September, and then they begin a long road trip that starts with the Sept. 16-18 Fall Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota.
The roster will be cut to 27 before the trip, Aikens said, and will be trimmed to the final 23 by the time the Wolverines play their first league game Sept. 24-25 against the Minnesota Magicians.
“So every chance players get to make a good impression is important,” he said.